December 17, 2015

2015 Wrap-Up, Holidays Mini-Hiatus and a Look at My Blogging Future...

Hello my sweet Christmas angels! (Err...too much? LOL).
Welcome to my last post of the year, which will resemble my last post of 2014, in what it will be divided in three sections. Here's where I recapitulate my 2015 in blogging (slower than 2014...), list my upcoming goals (so that I can un-meet them again), and inform you of my little leave of absence (because I need an excuse for slacking, and what better than Christmas holidays?). Oh, and of course, there will be the usual season-greetings-filled space in the end :). So, here goes...

Pt. 1: This Year in Blogging

As of today, I've been blogging for 3 years and a couple of months. Feels great!

This is what happened on Offbeat YA during the year, broken down by number of posts, events I took part in, books I reviewed, authors I interacted with and discussion posts I wrote...

December 06, 2015

My Open Letter to Santa: Things I Hope I WON'T Get in 2016 (Bookish Edition)


Dear Santa,

I've been a good (old) girl this year. I totally behaved. You know that.

So you probably think I'm going to ask for an adequate amount of presents as a reward for being so nice. Well, it's funny, but I'm not. I suppose it's a first for you.

On the other hand, I would hold that sigh of relief if I were you. Because what I'm asking for might prove to be a much more daunting task.

You see, I really hope you can grant my wish of NOT getting a number of things in 2016 - when it comes to books, that is. Here's my list of most annoying bookish things, and I trust that you will do anything in your power in order to get the written world rid of them. Thanks in advance.

November 11, 2015

Jessica Warman: "Between"

Title: Between [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None - but you can read a short spin-off story (that takes place a few years after the events recounted in this book) here. Honestly, it falls a bit flat...
Author: Jessica Warman [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Contemporary, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2011
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Rich story where the characters are peeled off layer by layer. Ghosts revisiting their past is a format that never gets old.
Cons: Even if some of them actually learn a few lessons along the way (dead ones included) and/or had it rough, characters are difficult to empathise with.
WARNING! Doing/selling drugs and the sexual exploitation of a minor are referenced, albeit not actually described. Eating disorder and the tragic death of a parent are portayed in detail. The story also features drunk driving (and its fatal outcome).
Will appeal to: Those who like problem books and don't shun disturbing themes. Those who don't mind deeply flawed characters.

Blurb: Elizabeth Valchar - pretty, popular, perfect - wakes up after spending her eighteenth birthday party on her family's yacht to investigate a thumping noise. What she finds will change everything she thought she knew about her life, her friends, and everything in between. As Liz begins to unravel the circumstances surrounding her birthday night, she will find that no one around her, least of all Liz herself, was perfect - or innocent. (Amazon)

Review: This is one of those difficult books to review. On one hand, I did like the story (especially the trips to the past, that may not be regarded as time travel instances technically, but retain the feel of themn) and I do think it's important that certain themes aren't glossed over in YA fiction. On the other, nearly everyone in this story is flawed or damaged, our heroine included, which makes for a bumpy trip. And I can't entirely buy the excuse for some of those flaws, because to me, not even a tragedy of the lack of love in your life can totally account for your becoming a bad or shallow person. Of course, this is just my opinion, and I don't have anything to back it with - but it explains my issues with this story.
Liz is your average rich and bratty teen, who, after celebrating her 18th birthday party with a selected group of friends, wakes up dead, with no clue of how it happened. While still processing the harsh reality of her new state, Liz finds that she has company in death: Alex, one of the unpopular kids at school, who died a year before in a driving accident. Given their opposite social statuses, the two of them have never been friends, and Liz - who, on top of everything, can't seem to remember vital pieces of her past - is not thrilled about spending the aftermath of her own death in such company. Not to mention, Alex's demeanor toward her is considerably bitter. Nevertheless, there must be a reason why death paired them together, and it's up to them to solve the mystery, along with the one reagarding Liz's death...
Now, like I said, I did like this story, especially the parts where Liz and Alex get to revisit moments of their past. They have a nice time-travel feel, and with Liz (who narrates the story) we also experiment a juxtaposition of her past and present self, getting a double perspective while she realises the wrongs in what she did - or others did to her. But as a ghost, Liz is also given the chance to uncover several unexpected (and painful) secrets about her fake-perfect family and friends, and herself too, which may ultimately hold the key to her untimely death - not to mention, to the reason why she's still stuck on Earth with an unlikely companion... [...]

October 31, 2015

A Shocking Revelation + Christopher Pike on Wattpad!

Ha! I got your attention with that title, didn't I?

What am I about to reveal on this fine day?


.....[SUSPENSE].....


Just that I'm going senile. Because on Oct. 14th, while I was writing this post, Offbeat YA was turning 3 and I didn't even notice O_O.


It's funny, because I did celebrate my first blogoversary, and no one was around to throw confetti or, well, post a comment. And I also celebrated my second (which went a little better, because by that time, I had a few friends or acquaintances in the blogging world), going as far as to do a survey of my first two years...Then, this year, I drew a blank. Maybe a psychoanalyst might explain it to me...
It's even more funny if you think that, in the meantime, I was already compilating my end-of-the-year survey!

Anyway. I have a piece of news for you. Less than three weeks ago, Christopher Pike joined Wattpad. Now, you all know I don't like Facebook, so I was happy to find out that one of my favourite authors had an online presence on a site where I could actually talk to him. So, a few days ago - when I discovered that he was on there - I posted a long comment on Mr. Pike's profile...this one:

Hello Mr. Pike,
I'm really excited to meet you here...since you are on Facebook and I'm not, I thought I'd never had the chance to tell you how much I love your books (though I have to be honest – a small number of them I'm not crazy about, but those that I do like, that is the vast majority, I love with a fierce passion). I am a 49 y.o. Italian woman, and I'm not ashamed to say I blog about YA books, because let's face it - YA has something in it for everyone, even old girls like me :). To be precise, your book Remember Me is to blame for my foray into YA fiction, and consequently, the YA blogging world...I read it in Italian around 20 years ago, because the blurb drew me like a magnet. And I fell in love. More recently, I've begun to purchase all your available books in English (RM included), though there are not as many around as I would like. I hope Simon & Schuster is going to repackage all you catalogue and publish them again, because I do want to read everything you've written.
Like I said, I set up a blog (in English) where I review YA novels old and new, but whose aim is mainly to spotlight the most original and less talked about YA gems out there – hence the name Offbeat YA. Of course, I couldn’t help devoting a whole section of my blog to your catalogue :). And of course, the very first book that I reviewed was Remember Me :). The Thirst series and The Season of Passage are other huge favourites of mine, but Remember Me will be in my heart forever. You were a pioneer, fleshing out your Sita and Shari back when no one was writing about vampires, and especially about dead girls :). I also love the insights into your books that you provide on Facebook (thanks to the admins for having made the page public), and I hope you'll go on posting them. Thank you and Simon & Schuster for giving us the chance to connect!
Best of luck with you new book!
Roberta (Italy)

October 24, 2015

Author Interview: GL Tomas ("The Sterling Wayfairer Series")

Hello my lovelies!
Today I'm sitting (so to speak) with two long-time blogger friends who have recently made a break into the writing world. Meet Guinevere and Libertad Tomas - or, more concisely, GL Tomas - proud owners of the Twinja Book Reviews and Rebellious Cupid Book Reviews blogs, and even more proud champions of all kinds of diversity in books (which inbues both their blogs anyway!).
GL Tomas have just self-published their first novel The Mark of Noba, which is also book 1 in The Sterling Wayfairer Series. With them, I'll get to talk about not only the aforementioned saga, but also the whole writing process, the path to self-publishing, and diversity of course!

Out in Spring 2016!
Before we get to know GL Tomas a little better, here's a spotlight on their ongoing debut series...

Title: The Sterling Wayfairer Series (4 books)
Authors: GL Tomas
Genres: Portal Fantasy (though fans refer to it as Sci-Fi too), Time Travel
Year: 2015+
Age: 14+
Available on: Paperback and Kindle
The Mark of Noba (book 1 in The Sterling Wayfairer Series) on Amazon | on Goodreads
The City of Fallen Stars (book 2 in The Sterling Wayfairer Series) on Goodreads 

Blurb for The Mark of Noba: Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career - distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date.
But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: he and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction.
Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra.
If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive. (Amazon excerpt)

Interview: The Sterling Wayfairer Series is your first foray into fiction - but is The Mark of Noba the very first book you conceived? How long did it take to write? And what made you decide to split the saga in a total of four books?

It’s funny! The Mark of Noba is quite a new idea compared to other projects. We always had it in our head, that the first book or work we’d publish was a Adult High Fantasy (that we’re actually still working on! lol) but years of going through things have changed a bunch of the plot around.

The Mark of Noba only came a few years ago, in comparison to most our WIPs which we’ve had since teenagers. It did take a 2.5 years to write, but only because we greatly disagreed how the plot should go, how much back story we should include, which characters to focus on most, and many other dirty factors readers have no idea about!

A lot of your upbringing teaches you to think a certain way, and when we’d finished a 1st draft of The Mark of Noba, many of the characters were a little sexist. We couldn’t believe reading it back to ourselves, considering how much we try to combat sexism in our writing! So it was great that we sat on it for as long as we did.

The decision to split it into four books is based on how Tetra and Sterling’s story arc weakens or strengthens. What we have in store for them will make them see the world in new ways, and while we considered making it a trilogy, we would’ve crammed one of the most important parts about their past in Book 3, and it would feel very info-dump, lol.

October 18, 2015

Allison Rose: "Tick"

Title: Tick [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Tick (1st of 3 books)
Author: Allison Rose [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-fi, Dystopian
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Not your usual dystopian. Never a boring moment. Romance plays a very small part in the story (which I think should be the case with a sci-fi book).
Cons: Main character is not easy to empathise with. Near-future L.A. and lead's relationships would have benefited from a little backstory.
WARNING! Very graphic violence and gore.
Will appeal to: Those who like action, conspiracies, stories about redemption, and tough girls who can cry nevertheless.

Blurb: Jo Bristol has a tick...she has visions of killing people. Los Angeles is under attack from cyber terrorists, and in an effort to stop them, the city uses spy drones to seek out civilians with brain abnormalities and adjusts their brains to remove any criminal tendencies. Jo has spent her life evading the drones and having her brain manipulated by keeping her tick a secret, until a week before her seventeenth birthday her visions threaten to become reality. Having always wanted to be a painter, Jo knows any adjustment to her brain could alter her artistic sense and she could lose all that makes her who she is. She must do everything she can to hide the darkness in her mind or lose her muse completely. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway. And I did befriend the author on Twitter after that. She even commented on one of my posts. This didn't affect my review in any way.
I was sold on this book after I read the blurb. I so wanted to read the story of a girl who fights in order to stay who she is and preserve the very thing she values above anything else. Also, the art theme, in all its forms, is very dear to me. I ended up reading a book that soon took a different route than I expected, but it was gripping and entertaining in its own way. The only thing that prevented me from giving it a higher rating (apart from not getting the story I thought I'd read, but it's not like I meant to punish the book for that ;)) was the fact that I found Jo a bit hard to empathise with...but I suppose it couldn't be avoided, given what happens to her and the predicament she finds herself in. I reckon the author didn't give birth to Jo with the intent of creating a character you could connect with in the usual way - by putting yourself in her shoes. (That's just my opinion though). But since I tend to need to do that with my characters, it had an impact on my rating, if small. On the other hand, I highly appreciated the work and thought that went into crafting this story, and the fact that it didn't shun going to very dark places - and I'm sure most people would be more than willing to rate it four stars and more :).
Don't get me wrong, Jo is not your average love-to-hate character. Not the petty queen bee who takes pleasure in bullying schoolmates, or whose main interest is painting her nails à la mode, but who is forced to become a better person as the story proceeds. She's not perfect by any means, but just wants to be able to paint, and fights in order to preserve her vision. Too bad that there are other kinds of vision that plague her, and soon swallow her whole life, spitting out a nightmare. Things get very rough for Jo, but those around her pay a high price for that. One begins to question what tells her apart from your usual killers who claim they don't take pleasure in offing people, but simply can't help doing it again and again...until...Jo starts a path of redemption, and we get a final revelation (though still very mysterious) that makes us understand there's a lot more to her "killer instinct". [...]

October 14, 2015

...In Which I'm #SorryNotSorry, Because I'm #HumanSoHuman

Here I go again.
Making excuses.
Only...not really.
Since this blog thing started, I've always refused to cave in to the popular belief that one has to post once a day...or once every two days...or on given week days...or whatever. I didn't even know such popular beliefs existed back when I started, but - in typical Roberta's fashion - I've always refused to adhere to those rules since when I became aware of them. Heck, I've spent my whole life avoiding trends, questioning things, doing my best in order to be my own person - you can't expect me to bend to someone else's rules when I'm doing something for my own pleasure. Because it doesn't matter how much you love books and the community and you mean to do a service to them - a blog is, first and foremost, your personal space, shaped around yourself. You may only hope you'll meet equal-minded people along the way, but this doesn't mean you have to purposefully market yourself.


September 29, 2015

Sarah J. Schmitt: "It's a Wonderful Death" (ARC Review)

Title: It's a Wonderful Death [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Sarah J. Schmitt [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife
Year: 2015
Age: 12+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Funny and bittersweet story with an unconventional premise for a YA book. Colourful set of characters.
Cons: The main character's moral switch is pretty wide and the butterfly effect is a bit extreme - they stretch believability.
Will appeal to: Those who like humour and sarcasm alternating with sweet interactions and emotive moments.

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be? But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. As a matter of fact, I wrote to Sarah J. Schmitt as far back as December 2014, when the first blurb of IAWD was released. She replied shortly after and in a really kind fashion, promising a PDF copy of her book to me as soon as it was ready to go around. Many months passed, during which I made a point not to bother Schmitt again, hoping for the best but prepared to find out she had probably forgotten all about this small blog and its owner - and I wouldn't have hold a grudge against her if she did. You know, so many blogs, so little time :). But, true to her word, in August Schmitt reached out to me again, and confirmed that I was going get IAWD from her publicist, which happened in a few days. So, a huge THANK YOU to Sarah J. Schmitt and SkyHorse Publishing for sending me an eARC! As usual though, this didn't affect my appreciation of the book in any way. Same for the fact that the author is a self-proclamed fellow Heroes fan :). Here goes...
Afterlife novels. I simply can't have enough of them. And the best thing about them is, I still have to come across an afterlife story that isn't original in some respect. IAWD is no exception to this unwritten rule. I don't know about adult fiction, but as far as YA lit goes, I've never read a book before where the main character gets "collected" by mistake and ends up pleading demanding to be restored in her timeline in front of a heavenly tribunal.
IAWD starts with a bang - a tragicomic one. Instead of being gradually introduced to the main character - seventeen year old RJ - we meet her at the very moment of her accidental (and bizarre) reaping. But RJ's reaction to the event gives us a definite flavour of her personality. She realised that the Grim Reaper wasn't originally aiming at her, and of course she won't volunteer to get collected - but the way she fights and demands for answers (and for her destiny to be reverted to its natural course) lets us know all there is to know about her...except it doesn't. Because for all her spunk and egocentrism and supposed mean-girl attitude, RJ is essentially guilty by association, and weak when it comes to leave the protective umbrella of the actual mean clique at school - as we are to learn soon. Not to mention, a potential good girl who has progressively lost her track.
Anyway, RJ's real nature and her chances of redemption if restored in her original timeline are not, turns out, the main concern of the afterlife bureau. Since RJ's case is apparently unprecedent, and many different interests are involved, the "legal" battle about her destiny doesn't exactly revolves around righting the wrong she endured. This is the part of the book I enjoyed more, because the limbo setting, the characters and the tribunal fight are plain fun. Schmitt populates her afterlife with a mix of characters from the Scriptures (the angels, Saint Peter), other religions (Buddha), Greek mythology (Cerberus) - all reimagined of course - plus a few originals (Al, Death-Himself), and no one is what they seem, or what you'd expect them to be. Also, RJ's reactions to the events and her banter with the supernatural beings are really enjoyable. [...]

September 22, 2015

Screen Time #3: "Heroes" (2006)


Welcome to Screen Time, my own feature where I ramble about spotlight some iconic and/or favourite TV series from the '80s, '90s and 2000s!
I'm a child of the '60s *big shock*. This accounts for me fondly remembering some oldies I grew up with, or having some of them in my all-time favourite list. But don't worry, I'm not stuck in the '80s ;). There are plenty of series I've liked and followed in the most recent years...and some current favourites too. So tune in with me, and don't forget your popcorn...

Logo property of NBC - no copyright infringement intended

Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama
Genesis: From an original idea by by Tim Kring
Time span: 2006 to 2010
Seasons: 4 (80 episodes)
Main characters & cast: Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) - Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) - Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) - Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) - Niki Sanders/Tracy Strauss (Ali Larter) - Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) - Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh) - Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) - Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee) - Sylar (Zachary Quinto)
Story setting: Mainly New York and Odessa (Texas), but other places around the world feature as well. Most of it is make-believe though, because the series was primarily filmed in Los Angeles.
Theme song: Original theme (and score) by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (known in the '80s as the pop duo Wendy & Lisa)
Spin-offs and remakes (to date): The sequel/reboot Heroes Reborn is starting on Sep. 24th in the US
In three words...: Exciting, surprising, adrenalinic

September 02, 2015

Confessions of a Senior Blogger: My Take on Ageism in the Book Blogging Community

My darlings, this will be a very long post, I'm sure.
I was already debating the post title theme with myself, when the book blogging community got hit (so to speak) by the New York Daily Times bomb a few days ago. I use the word "hit" in a heavily ironic way, of course. The plain truth is, everybody just laughed at the NYDT for portraying such community as a squad of mature readers who only cared for threesomes.


Most people ironically pointed out that "love triangles" and "threesomes" hardly have anything in common. Only a few, as far as I could see, mentioned that YA is full of stories that don't necessarily imply (graphic) sex, or that barely skim it altogether. It's so obvious, there's no need to state it - not even in order to delegitimate a short-sighted article (not that I blame those who did, or am trying to lessen their efforts). But such article did hit the community, in an oblique way. After reading it (and denouncing its ridiculousness), someone voiced their concern about teens getting the short end of the stick in the YA book blogging world. The latest - and probably best articulated - post about this issue is The Unspoken Ageism in YA by Christina Li. I'm quoting a passage from it, though you should read the whole thing (I recommend that you read the comments, too):

We are not your perfect high school fantasies. We are not your constantly witty, gorgeous, and sexually confident characters. We come from all races and from every type of social situation. We develop all kinds of identities of sex and gender. We can love boldly or hesitantly, or not at all. There is no one “right” way to write YA. The next time you write about teenagers, listen to us. Respect us. And please, please don’t try to speak for us without considering our voices.

Christina's post mainly deals with the strong impression that YA has become "adult property", for a bunch of reasons. Its authors, of course, are adults (more than 18 years old at the very least). Its publishers, of course, are adults. But also most of it readers (beta, too) and reviewers are adults by now. And real teens are beginning to feel marginalised, as if adults were teaming up to decide what teens should look, think and talk like in books, without them getting a say in it.

August 30, 2015

SBPT15 Week 9: "You See What I Did This Summer" - Blog Tour Recap!

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group got to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) was featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here. And since this is the last week of the tour, I want to thank my friend Tessa from Crazy for YA for being the one who brought this upcoming tour to my attention via one of her posts at the beginning of the summer...

So, this is the last stop for the SBPT 2015. I made it...and I am not even short of breath *congratulates self*. Like I mentioned in this post, I signed up for the Summer Blogger Promo Tour with the intent of 1) meeting new bloggers and 2) avoiding my usual summer blog slump and being forced to post during the wearisome hot season. Was I successful? [...suspence...]. Let's see...

August 27, 2015

Book Blitz: "The Mark of Noba" by GL Tomas (with Excerpt)


  Welcome to The Mark of Noba book blitz!
 
Today is my stop for the book blitz regarding The Mark of Noba by GL Tomas. This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blitz runs from 25 till 31 August; you can view the complete schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours here.


GL Tomas is the pen name of twin sisters Guinevere and Libertad Tomas, also known as @Dos_Twinjas (or @RebelliousCupid) on Twitter. I met Guin and Libby during my first year of blogging, when they started their own blog Twinja Book Reviews. So yeah, they are blogging pals and friends, whose major purpose as book bloggers is to spread the love of diverse books. It got to the point where they felt the need to actually contribute to the diversity issue in YA lit by writing a fantasy tetralogy called The Sterling Wayfairer Series. Its first installment, The Mark of Noba, is GL Tomas' debut novel. After posting the cover reveal and a first excerpt from the book a few days ago, Offbeat YA is now proud to present you a second excerpt...I opted out of a review precisely because I'm friends with the authors - I didn't want anyone to think I was biased :). So yeah, new excerpt it had to be. Click on the "Wanna read more" link...you know you're curious ;D.

Tetra and Sterling about to kick asses :). But wait...what lurks behind them?

August 23, 2015

SBPT15 Week 8: "How to Fall in Love with Horror" - by Emily (Emily Reads Everything)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

My blog stop today is at The Book Bandit, where I'm explaining why Indie Books Are Not Evil :). I hope to introduce you to some overlooked, but all praiseworthy authors!

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Offbeat YA is proud to present Emily (Emily Reads Everything), whose mission is turning you into a horror fan if you aren't already :). She's sharing some of her favourite horror novels that beginners in the genre can sink their teeth into, so to speak.

August 20, 2015

A Pause for Thought and a Small Blog Teaser...

I've been a bad, bad girl this summer. (Blog-wise, that is).

Well, not as much as I was last summer (do you know what I did last summer?...drum roll...NOTHING. And yes, I almost-quoted a book and movie on purpose LOL).

Or, to be more precise: this year, at the beginning of the season, I signed up for the Summer Blogger Promo Tour by The Book Bratz, with the intent of 1) meeting new bloggers and 2) avoiding my usual summer blog slump and being forced to post at least once a week. I'll delve on the SBPT subject on Sunday 30th (which is the last day of the tour, when we get to recap the whole thing), but for now, I'll mention that it was both a success and a failure on my part. I was able to keep abreast of the whole thing, even easier than I thought I would, which is a success in itself :). Thanks to the tour, I did avoid the whole "closed for the summer" issue I dealt with last year. On the other hand, I pretty much stuck with the tour posts (both those on my blog and the ones I provided to my pals in exchange), if you don't count a short story review of Four Houses by Victoria Scott and a cover reveal for The Mark of Noba by GL Tomas. Not that I anticipated that I would have done much more back when I joined the tour, because I know myself too well, not to mention, my free time is a bit limited - but I sincerely hoped to be more active on my blog, aside from the SBPT thing.

...That's what I did this summer instead

August 16, 2015

SBPT15 Week 7: "Top 5 Worst Book-to-Movie Adaptations" - List by Marissa Nicole (Marissa Nicole Reads)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

My blog stop today is at Little Book Heaven, where I'm sharing my Top 5 Agatha Christie Books. I hope to give you reason enough to fall in love with the Queen of Mystery if you haven't already!

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Offbeat YA is proud to present Marissa Nicole (Marissa Nicole Reads), who's listing her least favourite book-to-movie adaptations. (Well, I should say "favorite", what with Marissa being from the US, but since I've always used the British form, I'll stick with it. LOL).

August 11, 2015

Cover Reveal (+ Blurb and Excerpt): "The Mark of Noba" by GL Tomas

No, not the cover...but it's gorgeous, isn't it?
  Welcome to The Mark of Noba cover reveal!
 
Today is the cover reveal for The Mark of Noba by GL Tomas. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.


GL Tomas is the pen name of twin sisters Guinevere and Libertad Tomas, also known as @Dos_Twinjas (or @RebelliousCupid) on Twitter. I met Guin and Libby during my first year of blogging, when they started their own blog Twinja Book Reviews. So yeah, they are blogging pals and friends, who seem to get my questionable sense of humour and tolerate my Christopher Pike addiction, even if he's not the ultimate diverse books champion ;D.
Of course, I didn't mention diverse books accidentally. Spreading the love of them is Libby and Guin's major purpose as book bloggers, and it got to the point where they felt the need to actually contribute to the diversity issue in YA lit by writing a fantasy tetralogy called The Sterling Wayfairer Series. Its first installment, The Mark of Noba, is the book I'm proud to present you today. (Click on the "Wanna read more" link...you know you're curious ;D).

August 09, 2015

SBPT15 Week 6: "Successful Bloggers Reveal Their Secret" - 10 Blogging Tips by Amber & Jessica (The Book Bratz)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

As for me, this week I'm not featured on any SBPT blogs - every one of us has a "week off" during the tour, and this is mine. But stay tuned - next Sunday I'll be posting my favourite Agatha Christie books on Little Book Heaven!

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Well...two, as a matter of fact. Offbeat YA is proud to present Amber and Jessica (The Book Bratz), that is, the minds behind this fun blog tour! Since their blog has grown tremendously in only a couple of years, I asked them to share a few tips for running a successful blog, and they graciously accepted. Thank you girls!

August 02, 2015

SBPT15 Week 5: "Books I Would Pack for My Dream Vacations" - Places to Visit and Related Book List by Victoria (The Petite Book Blogger)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

My blog stop today is at The Regal Critiques, where you can read part 2 of my double interview with the blog's founder, the amazing Veronika! (For part 1 click here).

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Offbeat YA is proud to present Victoria (The Petite Book Blogger), who's listing 5 places she would like to visit one day and 5 books she would choose to make her company on her plane ride...

July 26, 2015

SBPT15 Week 4: "Dreaming the Writing Dream: 6 Authors Who Inspired Me to Write" - List by Mia (Mia in Narnia)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

My blog stop today is at Mia in Narnia, with a post titled Top 5 Series More People Must Read (where I hope you'll be introduced to some stuff you might like...).

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Offbeat YA is proud to present Mia (Mia in Narnia) [...yes, by chance we are each other's guest today!], who wants to become a writer and is sharing her Most Inspiring Authors list with us.

July 23, 2015

Victoria Scott: "Four Houses"

Title: Four Houses* [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
   *Note: read it for free on Wattpad
Series: None
Author: Victoria Scott [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife
Year: 2011 (expanded and reissued 2014)
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Peculiar story. Atmospheric writing.
Cons: Reverse chronology detracts from tension. Lead's voice sounds a bit too adult.
Will appeal to: Those who like a well-told story with a sensual vibe.

Blurb: A frightened girl. An empty field. Four houses. Which house would you choose?
FOUR HOUSES is a dark short story told in an unusual format that leaves readers wondering how they'd react if found in the same situation as seventeen-year-old Maddy. (Amazon)

Review: I've been wanting to read Four Houses for years, but since I can't shop on Amazon and the likes for lack of a credit card, this ebook has been sitting in my TBR list endlessly, while I was waiting for it to appear in physical form (perhaps as a novel companion). It turns out that I was right not to lose hope, because Victoria Scott has recently made a generous move and uploaded Four Houses on Wattpad!
[Note: I assume this is the 2014 enhanced version, not the 2011 release]. [...]

July 19, 2015

SBPT15 Week 3: "Hailing from Europe: How the Other Half Blogs" - Double Interview with Veronika (The Regal Critiques)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

My blog stop today is at The Petite Book Blogger, where you can read my post titled Better Left Alone: Sometimes Strong Books Don't Need a Sequel, in which I share my thoughts about a few serialized novels that - IMO - didn't need a follow-up. But it is meant to be a discussion post, so feel free to stop by and speak your mind!

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Offbeat YA is proud to present Veronika (The Regal Critiques), who agreed to participate in a double interview with me. The reason why we came up with the idea is because we're the only European bloggers in this leg of the SBPT - as you know, I'm Italian, and Veronika is Hungarian - so we thought it would be fun to compare our experiences as not-English-speaking book bloggers who decided to join the INT blogging community.

Veronika and Ruzaika's homeland
[My bad! I assumed that Ruzaika was Hungarian since she's Veronika's co-blogger,
but as a matter of fact she's from Sri Lanka! I only learned it after this post was up.
I'm deeply sorry for my mistake!]

Before we get to the actual post, I have to mention a few things:
1) Veronika's blog was titled Reading Is Dreaming with Open Eyes till a few weeks ago, and she used to tend to her blog alone. While in the process of changing the name, she also teamed up with her friend Ruzaika, who is now her very active and enthusiastic co-blogger. This blog tour was organised before Ruzaika joined The Regal Critiques, so I'm doing this interview with Veronika alone, but you'll find both girls' profiles and Twitter handles below.
2) I titled this post "How the Other Half Blogs" because the saying "how the other half lives" popped into my mind. That saying, actually, comes from a book title: "How the Other Half Lives" by Jacob Riis, documenting the hardships of living in a 1880 NY slum. My using this turn of phrase isn't meant to be disrespectful of course. Also, technically, you might object that the blogging world is not divided into two halves only...the American bloggers on one side, and on the other the European, African, Asian and Australian bloggers, all in a big cauldron. The fact is, this title was just a way for me to point out that there are many not-English speaking individuals in the book blogging community, who blog in English nonetheless and have different experiences to share. A few of which are highlighted below :).
3) This is the first half of our interview. The second batch of Q&A will be posted on The Regal Critiques on Sunday, August 2nd, and it will focus more on the whole blogging experience.
(Edit Aug. 2nd: here it is!).

July 12, 2015

SBPT15 Week 2: "Audiobooks: 5 Not-to-Miss Releases" - Recommendations by Jess (Little Book Heaven)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

My blog stop today is at Marissa Nicole Reads, where you can read my post titled 5 Contemporary Novels to Read if You Need a Break from Romance (which is pretty self explanatory...).

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Offbeat YA is proud to present Jess (Little Book Heaven), who kindly agreed to share her Top 5 Audiobooks with us.

July 05, 2015

SBPT15 Week 1: "Painting the Roses Red" - A Short Story by Nicole (The Book Bandit)

THE INTRO


Welcome to the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, hosted by The Book Bratz! 

If you're not familiar with it, the SBPT is like a temporary meme, only much more fun and interesting. Basically, a grand total of 56 bloggers who signed up for it have been divided in groups of 8 bloggers each. Every group gets to swap posts through the whole summer - that is, every blogger in the group (plus the host) is featured on one of their companions' blogs every Sunday, always contributing with a different and original post. You can read all about the SBPT here and here.

My blog stop today is at Emily Reads Everything, where you can read my post titled Afterlife Special, in which I fangirl about the Afterlife genre in YA and share some recommendations.

And now, without further ado, let me introduce one of my blog tour pals!
Offbeat YA is proud to present Nicole (The Book Bandit), who kindly agreed to share one of her short stories with us. Painting the Roses Red first appeared on Little Women Stories.

June 20, 2015

Lookie Mama, I Won a Book! (Plus a Few Multi-Flavoured Ramblings)

Hi my lovelies...

It's been three days and I still haven't recovered. After two years and eight months of blogging (and participating in giveaways), I FINALLY WON A BOOK. (Excuse my caps...not bragging...just broadcasting emotions). Not a physical copy, since I'm in Italy and they rarely get here (if ever)...but

I. WON. A. FRIGGIN'. BOOK.

PDF. Whatever. It's a BOOK, my darlings.

[Thanks to Giphy!]

June 06, 2015

Blog Plans (Open for Summer!)

[Original image source]

Hi my darlings!
Remember my latest post about the difficulties to juggle real life and blogging, BUT wanting to go on and actually spice up things here a little?
Well, this came up timely. In her May 2015 Wrap-Up post, Tessa from Crazy for YA mentioned the upcoming Summer Blogger Promo Tour by The Book Bratz. This is kind of a blog hop, but much more awesome and helpful than that. Because everyone who signed up (a total of 56 bloggers!) will be in the spotlight for 8 Sundays over the summer (in July and August) on 8 of his fellow participants' blogs, and will have the distint pleasure to meet new friends in the process! (Sign-ups are closed now, but if you're curious about the ins and outs of this event, just click on the SBPT link above).
Now, you know I'm not a huge fan of memes, but I like to take part in shorter (and often more meaningful) events. Besides, I was actually seeking out an opportunity like this right now! Last year I went M.I.A. for, well, pretty much the whole summer - in the very months that this tour is taking place. All the more reason for participating in it (well, as a matter of fact, the tour was first launched in 2014, but I didn't know at the time). This blog needs a shake up!

Thanks to Giphy!

I don't know how many posts/reviews I'll be able to squeeze in between my SBPT schedule, because well, see my latest post. But I'll try my best. Anyhow, I'll introduce you to a (maybe new to you?) different blogger every Sunday, and I hope it will be entertaining enough :).

Big wave to all the Summer Blogger Promo Tour participants! I'm sure we'll have fun together this summer! (Don't forget you sunglasses and sunscreen LOL).

[Image source]

May 26, 2015

...In Which Life Gets in the Way

[Image source]

Five months into 2015 and it's official: I royally flunked.
I've been debating with myself if I should write this post and sound whiny, or grind my teeth and pretend everything was cool. My decision was made when I realised two weeks had passed since my latest post, which pretty much makes you dead in the blogging universe. Now, from Day 1, I've always refused to adhere to stupid rules and turn blogging into a chore. On the other hand, with my followers and readers base, it's not like I can go M.I.A. for weeks and expect to gain more of them, or to become an established blogger. So I decided I owed such followers and readers - not to mention new visitors - an explanation, at the very least.
My goal for this year was to produce an average of a post per week - which I did last year. And which should have been so simple to accomplish. Until it wasn't.

May 12, 2015

Deborah Lynn Jacobs: "Choices"

Title: Choice [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Deborah Lynn Jacobs [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Multiverse
Year: 2007
Age: 12+
Stars: 2/5
Pros: Sibling love. A convincing explanation of multiple realities.
Cons: Some of the realities feel forced. The ending is not consistent with the premise, and the lead's final choice makes no sense.
WARNING! Drug smoking. A drinking parent.
Will appeal to: Those who like to wonder "what if..." and don't care much for plausibility.

Blurb: A teenage girl consumed by guilt over her brother's death tries to find a universe in which he is still alive. Choices begins in one dimension, then fractures into four distinct voices with every decision Kathleen/Kay/Kate/Kathy makes. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: This is a though one to review without being too spoilery, but I'll try...
I was originally drawn to Choices for two reasons: 1) the multiverse concept and 2) the apparently original premise...a guilt-consumed girl who would go to any lenght to have her big brother back. I'm intrigued by alternate-universes theories, and I thought it was refreshing to have a teen who was driven by sibling love instead of romantic/lustful one. Multiverse I did get - though it presented some issues that I'll address later - but as for the rest...I closed the book feeling cheated.
17 y.o. Kathleen has just lost her older brother Nick due to an accident she feels responsible for, because Nick was coming to pick her at a party where she didn't really want to go in the first place, and because she never learned to drive. Also, unlike most girls her age, Kathleen was very close to her big brother, which adds to her pain. Nick's death triggers a peculiar chain of events - or better, a series of them - Kathleen doesn't know what to make of at first: there are specific splitting points where she makes a decision instead of another and this causes equally specific consequences...The real catch is, Kathleen finds herself shifting among the different realities her choices and not-choices create, retaining a double memory after every split. Of course, Kathleen thinks she's losing it, and fast. It's Luke, a slightly older boy and fellow shifter she met at Nick's funeral, who finally helps her understand what's going on. I'm not a physics expert, but Luke's explanation of the shifts seems fine to me, and actually makes sense. Or I want it to make sense because I'm fascinated by characters who live different lives, so if there's a plausible way for them to, I'm more than happy :). (Not sure what Stephen Hawkins would have to say about Luke's theory, but still). Well, so, the multiverse part started strong to me. And Kathleen - in all her different versions - is a relatable enough character, though not particularly memorable. So what about the 2 stars? Here goes... [...]